Chris Jones ready to "rise to the occasion"

University of Louisville signee Chris Jones was watching closely as the Peyton Siva-era ended with a national championship on Monday night. Jones is the heir apparent at the point guard position for the Cardinals. He spoke with Cardinal Authority on Thursday afternoon about U of L's title and the future.

Chris Jones was in the stands watching when the University of Louisville beat Wichita State last Saturday in the NCAA Final Four at the Georgia Dome.

The University of Louisville signee had to return to Florida for class on Monday but was still paying close attention to the championship game that night.

And when the Cardinals won the national title, Jones said he "was very excited" and celebrated for his future team.

"It was a lot of fun to watch," Jones said. "It was a great game and they really played well as a team the entire tournament. Coach Pitino let them play."

Jones, the first-team Junior College All-American from Northwest Florida State College, said he has talked to Peyton Siva and Russ Smith since they won the title and would talk to Rick Pitino when things settle down.

"It nice for me because I am going to a program coming off a national championship and I know I will be playing for a Hall of Fame coach," Jones said. "I have a lot going in my favor heading to college.

"Watching them, that opened my eyes and told me I picked a great school."

Jones is ranked as the top junior-college player in the country and is expected to step in the starting spot as the U of L point guard. Siva, a senior, led the Cardinals to the Final Four each of his last two seasons, including on this year's title run.

"It might be an easier trip next year early on because all of the players now know what it takes," Jones said. "We'd love to do it again. I have been there two years in a row also, so we know what to expect."

Jones, who led NW Florida to a national JUCO runner-up two years in a row, said he was excited watching the way Pitino let Siva and Smith play.

"Peyton Siva was making plays like (he did in the final) all year," Jones said. "Coach Pitino led Peyton and Russ go this whole year. I can see myself doing the same thing for him next year."

Jones will graduate in May and said he will then head to U of L in the summer, ready for the lofty expectations that will be waiting for him.

Jones said he would embrace the expectations and wants to wear jersey No. 3 (Siva).

"I live up to things like this," Jones said. "I like it when everybody has their eyes on me. I don't look at that as pressure. I just have to rise to the occasion.

"I am used to all the pressure and will have a lot of weapons. I can't wait to get. If there are expectations, I'll take them on with open arms."

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